America’s top doc told the Herald yesterday that Santa Claus should slim down, in the latest blow struck in a global politically correct crusade against the jolly fat man.

“It is really important that the people who kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well and getting exercise. It is absolutely critical,” acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Adm. Steven K. Galson said in an interview after a presentation on obesity at the Boston Children’s Museum.

Touting NFL players who work with kids to promote healthy lifestyles, Galson added: “Santa is no different.”

Santa’s waistline is the most recent casualty in a war which has already taken away his pipe and his ability to scoop children up and sit them on his knee.

Newspapers abroad have been filled with headlines bemoaning the plight of Australian Santas ordered not to say “ho, ho, ho” for fear of offending women or scaring children, and British Santas sent to boot camp to lose weight.

Some American Santas are taught not to greet people with “Merry Christmas” in case it offends people of different faiths, according to Tim Connaghan, founder of the International University of Santa Claus.

And the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas agrees with the acting surgeon general that Santa is just too fat. The organization has suggested its 800 members lose weight in time for its July convention to “set an example.”

“We think it is a health issue for Santa and for children and that Santa should be setting an example,” said Nicholas Trolli, president of Philadelphia-based AORBS.

Connaghan carried out a survey of more than 300 Santas that found the average weight was 256 pounds.

Some Santas agree that crosses the line from jolly to obese. Wendell Ritchie, a 63-year-old, 6-foot-5, 310-pound Santa from Springfield, said he wants to lose weight next year, although he does not believe Santa should be slim: “I’m an overweight Santa, but he is naturally rotund.”

Santa Rene L. Bureau, 59, of Lowell said he fears for the health of his fellow fat Santas.

“I find that a lot of us who are overweight suffer from health problems, from heart attacks to just having problems getting around,” he said.

Health experts concur.

“I thoroughly agree he should lose weight and we should find ways to make healthy foods more palatable to children,” said Dr. Meredith Harris, associate professor at Northeastern University. “Role models should be seen to be looking fit and living healthily.”

Bah, humbug, say other St. Nicks.

“It would cripple the image of Santa if they were to take his weight away,” said Santa Jim Manning, owner of South End-based santaboston.com.

“(Kids) are looking at my face. They could care less about the tummy,” agreed retired teacher Tom Geary, Santa at the Watertown Mall.

Santa’s jelly belly has nothing to fear from at least one local health honcho.

“While childhood obesity is a serious problem, we think Santa is fine just the way he is,” said Donna Rheaume, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
But she added: “We would recommend people leave him healthier snacks this year like a nice apple or carrot and celery sticks, which have an added benefit because they are tasty for his reindeer, too.”

Via: Boston Herald